Save the Internet from WordPress speed abuse.
Updated: December 2017
Incsub, LLC (aka WPMU DEV) have the art of producing customer fear down to a science. For example, you can take their WP-Checkup for free, once in a 24-hour period. Their speed-test is scary but nonetheless wimpy at best. We’ve written about other SEO and Security portions of that test. Read about it.
But in this article, we focus only on speed. Our performance score was a 96/100. But scores are meaningless. There are 10 speed parameters. Here they are:
1Remove render blocking. 24/100
The test identified one offending file on PagePipe. It’s a CSS file loaded by a plugin called Add Search to Menu. We like this plugin. The test told us none of the above-the-fold content could be render until this CSS file got out of the way. Now from experience, we know above-the-fold rendering blocks are a deceptive waste of time. It’s pure crock. They gave us a red-alert alarm on this little thing. Why? Instilling fear.
Where is the fold on a mobile device anyway?
WordPress almost always fails render-blocking tests. Does Google punish your SEO for your failure? No. They don’t use any concocted speed parameters from PageSpeed Insights for their secret algorithm. They only use Time to First Byte (TTFB). That’s a function of your server responsivity. It has nothing to do with website design – or site performance optimization. Fast TTFB is something you buy from a hosting provider.
People ask us, “Should I rewrite my code or use plugins to remedy render blocking?” The answer is: no. It doesn’t make any difference in speed or SEO. So forget it. More than likely you’ll end up breaking your site over nothing. You’ll see a white screen of death – or a page of unstylized CSS. Not worth the grief.
Remember: This wasteful test doesn’t tell you how fast your site loads in milliseconds. That’s what counts. Not some silly score. Go test PagePipe.com on Pingdom. Milliseconds count, not that 99 “A” score.
2Minify CSS. 85/100
The test said we should minify a theme file: twentyseventeen/style.css to save 3.9k in page weight. Almost 4k. So much! We know how to minify with online minification tools using copy and paste. We could do that hassle – and maybe we will. But really. Is this significant? They gave us a yellow alarm on this one. Grrr!
Anyway, this test said we could reduce two theme-related files by 1.9k. Almost 2k. Wow! We’d risk breaking our site for that? I don’t think so. And we’ve tried minification. It breaks our ecommerce plugin for selling books. No thank you.
4Enable compression: 100/100
This refers to Gzip compression. It’s probably already activated on your server by default. If not, a simple, free plugin can switch it on. Learn more about Gzip compression here.
5Prioritize visible content: 100/100
Boy-oh-boy! What a relief since we didn’t even try. This is another bogus and silly parameter. Makes no difference whatsoever.
Minify HTML: 100/100
Interesting result. We’re not minifying HTML with a plugin. Again minification is not a big deal. Small gains – if any.
8Improve server response time: 100/100
This is Time to First Byte (TTFB). The only way you can improve it is switching to a different hosting provider. Our TTFB is 176 milliseconds on magnetic, shared, cheap GoDaddy hosting. That’s fast because we don’t use HTTPS/SSL certification which slows down TTFB by up to an additional 500 milliseconds. We don’t need it. All our transactions are via PayPal. And we don’t use signup forms for anything but email addresses. Read more about how HTTPS/SSL slows down your site.
9Avoid landing page redirects: 100/100
We’ve heard some people have problems with redirects. We don’t. It’s a simple matter of using the right settings in WordPress. And the Redirection plugin for changes. This is a silly thing to check in a speed test.
⒑Leverage browser caching: 100/100
We use two caching plugins: Cache Enabler and WP Super Simple Speed. Two caching plugins? Really? How odd. Are we paranoid? No. We’ve just found these two together do a nice job for us. Only repeat visitors benefit from browser caching. First time visitors are the bulk of your traffic – usually new visitors are around 60 to 80 percent. So caching doesn’t help everyone. Sometimes there’s no speed benefit at all. You have to test using millisecond comparisons.
Mobile WordPress Speed – without coding!